Dolphins: Titans pose threat to drop Miami to 1-4.
By Sean Denison
Although new Miami Dolphins interim head coach Dan Campbell has created an atmosphere in team training that more resembles a scene from the film Gladiator than an NFL practice, it still might not be enough for the Dolphins to come out of Nashville this Sunday with a win—something Miami hasn’t experienced since the season kicked off September 13th.
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In Campbell’s head-coaching debut, he’ll have the misfortune of going up against one of the best defenses in the NFL. The Titans defense mirrors the style and play of the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets (two teams that gave the Dolphins a migraine).
The Titans currently sit atop of the league against the pass, and rank third in total defense. They’re in the top ten in getting to the quarterback, and have given up only 31% of third downs. But with all the aforementioned stats, the most impressive of them all is the fact that the Titans defense gives up the least amount of first downs per game. Long story short: they’re really good.
Now, despite the new sense of urgency and attitude Dan Campbell and newly promoted assistant coach Darren Rizzi have bestowed on the players in the locker room and the practice field, the Dolphins still have a problem they might not be able to avoid this Sunday: personnel.
According to Pro Football Focus, Miami’s two starting offensive guards rank dead last in the NFL at their respective positions; Jamil Douglas and Dallas Thomas have been horrendous this season and are a big reason why Miami ranks dead last in rushing yards per game. The offensive line, particularly at the guard position, is also responsible for the pounding Tannehill has taken all year.
Behind this porous offensive line, Lamar Miller—coming off a career-high 1,099 yards last season—can’t find running lanes and has been tackled behind the line of scrimmage more times than we can remember. In fact, due to Miami always playing from behind, Miller has been non-existent all season. Unfortunately, all season long, Miami has been playing catch up—being outscored 37-3 in the first quarter alone. Thus, the Dolphins passing attack has made up 70% of their offense.
To make matters worse, behind this offensive line, Tannehill has looked like a lost, wounded soldier that just caught a grenade—he’s battered, bruised, and on the brink of death. After investing so much money into Tannehill and relying on him to be the face of the franchise, he’s the last guy Stephen Ross wants to see go down due to injury.
“Tannehill has looked like a lost, wounded soldier that just caught a grenade—he’s battered, bruised, and on the brink of death”
This Sunday will show us a lot. Have the Dolphins found their “swag” under Dan Campbell, or are they the same old Dolphins that we’ve seen moping around the sidelines with their heads pointed straight to the turf? If they expect to come out with a victory against a top-rated defense, Miami must get back to the basics and control the line of scrimmage. If so, the Dolphins will have a good chance at establishing a running game, which will eventually open up play-action and keep the Titans defense honest.
Remember, Tannehill can only take so much; his frame isn’t built to withstand the regular beating he’s been grown accustomed to since joining the league four years ago. If the offensive line’s struggles continue, it’s money down the drain for Stephen Ross and the Dolphins.